TTC at Thanksgiving, and Christmas – you’ve got this

Eloise Edington  |   24 Nov 2022

TTC at Thanksgiving, Christmas or just about any big holiday can be difficult.  It’s front of mind for the team here at FHH, so this week we picked up with Dr Thais Varzoni, mental health counsellor at the amazing Brown Fertility for her tips on navigating a fertility journey, during the holidays. Catch our chat over on Insta, and read on for our list of suggestions to help you keep yourself safe, happy and preoccupied for the season.

Words by Katherine Compton

1 Will you be spending time with family?

While spending time with family can be a joyous occasion, it may be hard to get the message across to everyone that you may not want to discuss fertility or your TTC journey. At large gatherings, we sometimes have to face tough questions like, ‘Why aren’t you married?’, ‘When are you going to have kids?’ and the clearly very helpful reminder that ‘the clock is ticking.’ Thanks, Nan!

Situations like these can be difficult to avoid and to anticipate. It is at this point that you should consider who you will be spending the holidays with. If you are in a relationship, you and your partner could agree to avoid topics of infertility if you feel this will help you both to enjoy the time. if you feel capable of giving everyone the heads up that you don’t want to discuss fertility over the holidays, your wider family may also be accepting of this boundary.  However, in some cases, it might not be that simple and you may need to consider whether attending a wider gathering is worth any emotional toll this may take on you.

2 TTC at Thanksgiving & Christmas – prep your safe spaces, and people

If you want to have an exclusive celebration, let your wider family know that this is nothing personal and that it is simply that it is just a difficult time of year for you, which you would prefer to spend alone.

If you are spending time with extended family, perhaps plan to have a designated buffer. This would be a friend or relative who has taken on the responsibility of deflecting difficult conversations away from you, should the situation call for it. You can let them know what questions and topics you would like to avoid beforehand, so that they can swoop in and steer the conversation to light-hearted topics.

Alternatively, you could attend the gathering with a prepared set of topics in mind to avoid any awkward silences which people may feel the need to fill with intrusive questions. These topics may include achievements of yours such as a promotion or a new job; perhaps you are moving to a new location soon and would like to discuss this, or maybe you have a trip coming up; perhaps are reading a really interesting book you would like to talk about. Not only will this help to keep the conversation light, but it may also remind you of your worth beyond fertility which can help make you feel a little more festive.

If you’re feeling brave, you could address the situation head on. If you don’t find the topic too difficult or triggering, you could try to answer their questions openly if this is what you feel like doing. It might even help to shed some light on your current situation and may remind those nosey few that they shouldn’t ask invasive questions.

3 Spend time with your partner

If you are going through this journey with a partner, this might just be the perfect opportunity to get back in tune with them. TTC can put a strain on relationships and you may be looking to regain a level of intimacy and connection that you may have felt was lacking.

During the holidays, most fertility clinics are closed which can put a temporary end to treatment. This can be devastating and difficult to acknowledge; however, the small silver lining is that taking a step back from trying to conceive may give you the time you need to breathe, recuperate and reconnect with your partner.

4 Take care with social media

Oftentimes, advertisements and posts of friends and relatives depict children opening gifts with their parents. This may be triggering for you, especially since holiday celebrations can begin as early. Taking a break from social media may be helpful during this time.

5 Throw yourself into the festivities

You may find that throwing yourself into the holiday cheer is just the thing you need. Hang the tinsel, string the lights, decorate the tree, plan the glorious meal and pick the biggest crackers with the best nail clippers and marbles you can find.

If you feel that Christmas in itself is overwhelming, with Christmas songs and movies tugging on the heart-strings, avoid those things.  If you would prefer, simply participate in activities that make you happy and may have nothing to do with Christmas. Watch things that make you laugh, or even thrillers if that’s your thing.

6 Don’t drop the self-care routine

The festive season can upset our normal patterns. The typical meals you might usually eat get replaced by a roast and mince-pies, and you may find that due to this all of your usual routines come to a halt. Try to maintain the self-care routine you had prior to the holidays, as this may help to improve your mood. If you were practising de-stressing techniques, healthy meal prep, regular exercise – try to keep up with these habits.

7 Talk to people you trust

It can be really difficult to stay connected with people through life, especially when undergoing such stressful and time-consuming events like fertility treatments. While we hope you have someone to confide in and rely on, this is not always the case for everyone. If you feel that this year you may be isolated or that you need someone to talk to, reach out to family, friends or members of our fertility community who are dealing with similar struggles.  Why don’t you download our Fertility Squad app this festive season?  Perhaps our members can offer you some great advice on handling the holidays.

Hopefully, these suggestions have given you some ideas on how you can enjoy the holiday festivities this year.

If you would like to speak with members of our fertility community or people near you who are dealing with similar struggles, perhaps download our Fertility Squad app this holiday season.

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